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Extreme Weight Loss renewed for fifth season: Carb-cycling diet success

"Extreme Weight Loss" stars Chris and Heidi Powell.
"Extreme Weight Loss" stars Chris and Heidi Powell.
Photo by Rachel Murray

In a nation where obesity rates continue to skyrocket, we apparently find entertainment value in watching others succeed in losing weight. "Extreme Weight Loss," which highlights one to two obese individuals struggling to shed pounds in each episode, has been renewed for a fifth season, reported the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Each episode encompasses one year in the participants' lives, which makes early renewal a priority. In addition to renewing the series, ABC plans to follow three different couples for special series called "Extreme Weight Loss: Love Can’t Weight."

The show stars trainer Chris Powell and his wife Heidi. Author of "Chris Powell's Choose More, Lose More for Life," he advocates the use of a carb-cycling diet that alternates low-carb diet days with calorie-calculated higher carb meals. The approach is designed to "trick your metabolism into burning a lot of calories, even on those low-carb days," says Chris.

But exercise plays a key role as well. And as the most recent episode showed, many individuals begin their weight loss journey unable to even jump on a trampoline, reported the Tennessean on Wednesday.

That episode, which aired Tuesday, starred Nashville singer-songwriter Jayce Hein. He weighed 417 pounds at the beginning of his year-long transformation and lost 188 pounds during his participation on the show.

Reflecting on the experience now, Hein emphasized the emotional aspect of weight loss. Getting up the courage to jump on a trampoline with his son required courage that he initially lacked because of his size.

"I was that big guy and everyone would say, 'Go out there and do it.' And I was very, what's the word for it, (I had) no confidence at all," he admits.

It took a combination of physical effort in terms of exercise and diet and mental changes to get him on that trampoline at last. Iit finally clicked in my mind that I can do anything," Hein said. "It never gets easy, but it gets easier."

One of the questions that Chris, who also authored "Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution," repeatedly is asked: Which counts more, diet or exercise? Answering that question on a recent episode of "The View," he was quick to respond: "Definitely diet."

For that reason, each episode includes sessions in the kitchen learning to cook (as opposed to take fast food out of a bag). Chris is so determined to wean participants from foraging in fast food joints that he even once subjected his body to trying out the impact of greasy sausage biscuits on his own body (he suffered an agonizing food hangover that was painful to watch).

Talking with "The View" hosts, Chris noted that he also frequently teams up with Rocco DiSpirito, author of "The Pound a Day Diet: Lose Up to 5 Pounds in 5 Days by Eating the Foods You Love." The chef lost weight himself, and thus serves as a role model to participants who are stressed that they won't be able to enjoy their favorite foods on a diet.

There's also some star power behind the "Pound a Day" plan: Whoopi Goldberg says she lost 30 pounds on the diet. Kris Jenner also has praised Rocco's recipes.

How does the "Pound a Day" diet compare to carb-cycling? Both use the concept of alternating calorie and carb counts. However, Rocco emphasizes using the weekends for your more generous calorie allotment days, while Chris recommends dieting in set cycles to develop a weight loss routine.